thinking outside the blue sky

Yesterday I attended a roadshow that was telling us about the forthcoming changes to Baptist Ministers’ pensions. It was well-presented and clearly explained, and I was impressed with the depth of knowledge of those who were sharing this with us. I think the changes are needed, prudent and wise. I won’t attempt to try to explain in detail what is happening, suffice to say that there is a £60million black hole in the existing pension scheme that means it is unsustainable in its current form.


That’s a big black hole.

We’d need to win the Euromillions Lottery on a mega rollover week in order to fill the hole. Now there’s an idea. Why not use the existing fund to buy tickets that cover every possible permutation, then we would guarantee winning the top prize and fill the hole. Except that there’s no guarantee we would be the only winners. And it’s supporting the lottery, which is not something that we would want to do as an organisation.

But it’s thinking outside the box. It’s blue sky thinking. It’s looking in unlikely places for the answers.Box

By the way, where is this box: outside of which thinking is to be encouraged? Can we only come up with good ideas on cloudless days? That precludes us from thinking much in the summer in this country…[Thinks for a moment. Lightbulb goes on] aaaha! That’s why we all go on holiday in the summer: our brains are less imaginative because the sky is overcast or it is raining!

At our last Deacons’ Meeting we were challenged by these verses:

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3, NIV)

The question was asked, “What can you imagine?” And the rejoinder was offered: “God can do immeasurably more than that!” One person said that they could imagine that the church would be full on Sundays within a year. With what I can only attribute to his grace laced with his sense of humour, last Sunday God filled the place as we were visited by over 30 students from the University who are looking at different churches around Colchester! But if that verse is true, why couldn’t God do that?

I was challenged to consider whether sometimes I am thinking in a dark corner of a small box on a rainy day when it comes to what I hope and imagine God will do. I have not heard a promise from him that he will fill the church within a year, but I have heard promises of his faithful presence, his power and encouragement, his joy and his peace, his strength and his compassion. If we are all free samples of that to the world God may yet fill the church – and every other church!

Be blessed, be a blessing.

Three clergymen split on a lottery ticket and they won the grand prize of a million pounds. The first one, an Anglican Vicar says “this is a blessing, but how much do we keep for ourselves and how much should we give to God”?

After a few minutes he said “I know we’ll draw a circle and throw the money up in the air,whatever lands out of the circle we’ll keep and whatever lands in the circle we’ll give to God.”

The Catholic Priest pipes up and says, “You know it’s a little windy, I think we should throw the money up in the air and whatever lands inside the circle we keep and whatever lands outside of the circle we give to God.”

They then turn to the Baptist Minister and ask his opinion, and the minister thinks for a moment and says: “I think we should throw the money up in the air and and whatever God wants he can keep and his generosity he will allow the rest to fall to the ground for us.”

Black Holes

I have discovered a black hole!

On Monday I had a mole removed from my face. The doctor who did it put a small plaster over the wound so I did not get to see it until yesterday. I have a black hole in my face. I am intrigued by it and by how people may react to seeing it. Sympathy is in short order in our household.Thomas was repulsed. Hannah was less interested in it than an injury she picked up at school and Sally finds it amusing. Last night at church only one person made any comment: either everyone had read yesterday’s blog, they were all being very polite, or it is less obvious than I think. What do you think?

Black holes are very topical at the moment. Yesterday the Large Hadron Collider collided two protons for the first time to see what will happen. The aim is to try to discover the building blocks of the universe – the particles that make up particles that make up atoms. The one they  are particularly looking for is a theoretical particle called a ‘Higgs Boson’. To me that sounds like a person working on a pirate ship for Captain Higgs, or what you find in the bathroom of an unsophisticated provincial person*. Some people are worried that they will create a black hole in Switzerland where the LHC is based that may swallow the Alps or even destroy the planet. I am fairly happy to trust that this will not happen, but we can’t be sure.

The LHC project has cost over £4 Billion. Yup, that’s £4,000,000,000. A lot of zeros are involved. Don’t get me wrong, I am fascinated by what they are doing and what may be revealed. But what could £4 Billion do to alleviate world poverty, cancel the debts of poorer countries, provide education for those who have no access, and so on? Is discovering the small building blocks of the universe worth more than human life?

Talking of black holes, I have been watching ‘Wonders of the Solar System’ on BBC2 by Prof Brian Cox. It has been brilliant – describing the intricate and delicate balance of the Universe, explaining how things have been created in language I can understand and showing some astonishingly beautiful pictures that have been taken of space. With my tongue very firmly in my cheek (the left one in case it comes through the black hole in the right one) I would suggest that it almost looks like someone designed it all. Wouldn’t it be great if one day a programme like that not only looked at the ‘how’ but also rearranged the letters and looked at the ‘who’ – science and faith hand in hand?

Anyway, following the success of the LHC scientists have agreed that they can now recreate the way in which the Universe was formed. So they sent their best people to tell God that humans no longer need him because they can create too.

God suggested that to test this theory the scientists and he should have a little competition to see if he was now redundant – each would create Creation. Since God said he had already done it once the scientists should go first. The LHC scientists wound up the elastic bands powering the LHC further than ever before, getting ready to launch two protons against each other at almost the speed of light in order to recreate Creation. Just as they were about to push the button to start it all off God stopped them.

“If you are going to do it how I did it you will have to get your own protons instead of using mine!”

* A Hick’s Basin! [Stop groaning, you should know me better than to assume it was not corny…]